Summary: Lent 5(C) - Knowing Christ is our greatest gain. It means we leave behind sinful pasts and we press on toward God’s goal.
KNOWING CHRIST IS OUR GREATEST GAIN (Outline)
March 29, 2009 -- LENT 5 --
INTRO: Our world makes many promises of “great gain”. Recently those grand promises of great gain have become great losses. Such are the empty promises of a sinful world. Not so with the God’s guaranteed promises. This world promises and fails. Our loving Lord promises and always provides. Today we are reminded that God’s spiritual gift of knowing Christ is our greatest gain. "Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (JOHN 20:30,31). The Bible is written that we have life in his name.
KNOWING CHRIST IS OUR GREATEST GAIN.
I. We leave behind sinful pasts.
II. We press on toward God’s goal.
I. WE LEAVE BEHIND SINFUL PASTS
A. The life of the Apostle Paul was dramatically and drastically changed after the Lord called him.
1. Verse 7. Paul wanted to leave behind all that he had falsely followed previously.
2. Verse 8a. Paul gave up being a Pharisee, his own self-righteousness and work righteousness.
3. Paul simply wanted to know Christ better, verse 8b, 9a. Paul could not save himself.
B. Verse 9b. God called Paul out of darkness and into faith, by his free, divine and merciful grace.
1. To be found in Christ by knowing Christ was Paul’s greatest possession given to him by God.
2. Pharisees trusted in their own good works and obedience. Paul gave all of this up for Christ.
C. Verses 10. Paul dedicated the remainder of his life to know Christ. Paul already shared in suffering.
1. Paul had been beaten and once even left for dead. Paul was now in prison, but not unhappy.
2. Verse 11. Paul joyfully lived in the present because he knew the power of God.
3. By the power of Christ and with God’s strength Paul put his past sinful life behind him.
D. Satan, sin, wickedness and evil are still alive and well in the world around us. Some try to deny the power of Satan. Even one of the major networks did a special concerning the existence of Satan. Sadly, all too many try to get their theology from those who do not have even a passing acquaintance with God’s holy word. Sadly, some deny Satan and sin. After all, no one wants to hear such soul-depressing words. Yet, as believers, we know that devastation that evil brings into our lives and the rest of this wicked world. We do not have to learn about evil because we are born sinners. Evil is present with us from the very beginning. "Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults"(1 CORINTHIANS 14:1). We no longer live as infants. May we also leave evil be behind us.
E. Our old man is our sinful nature. As long as we live and breathe in this earthly life this sinful nature is a part of our lives. When we do not do the good that we ought to do, this is our sinful nature. When-ever we do the evil that we do not want to do this is also our sinful nature. We cannot escape that corruption of this world that is upon us due to sin. Thankfully, we know Christ. Since the knowledge of (faith in) Christ is alive and well in our hearts and lives we are able to put behind us our sinful past. "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient" (EPHESIANS 2:1,2). Satan is still works in those held in his grip. Knowing Christ is our greates gain.
F. On our own we are lost and condemned creatures. By grace the Lord God Almighty plants grace in our hearts through his word. God’s word of truth empowers us to leave behind sinful pasts. When we leave sinfulness behind there will be an emptiness that needs to be filled. When we turn away from one thing we turn toward another. Turning away from sin we now turn to God’s mercy. "Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon" (ISAIAH 55:7). Note: our gracious God freely pardons. There are no free pardons in this world or from the world. From God there is free forgiveness for sins!